Elected officials in Tuscaloosa will meet later this month to discuss whether to shut down a hookah lounge belonging to former Tide tackle Isaiah Buggs, now in the NFL on the Kansas City Chiefs' roster.

As the Thread has reported in the last week, Buggs is deeply entangled in legal woes with the city, where he is accused of animal cruelty in addition to shoving the police chief, pointing a gun at a woman, overcrowding the lounge and more.

For his part, Buggs has said he is being unfairly targeted by the Tuscaloosa Police Department and other city leaders, who he claims want to see his business closed no matter what.

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After his time with the Crimson Tide ended with a national championship ring and a sixth-round draft pick to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buggs opened Kings Hookah Lounge at 3801 Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa.

Following an eyebrow-raising number of recent run-ins with the police department and other city staff, city CFO Carly Standridge sent a memo petitioning the city council to revoke the business license there.

"The Revenue Department has received complaints from the City of Tuscaloosa Police Department concerning King's Hookah Lounge having become a public nuisance and dangerous to the public safety, health and welfare and having violated or aided in the violation of state and local laws related to its business activities," she wrote. "Additionally, the Revenue Department has determined that King's Hookah has been delinquent in paying their sales tax, liquor taxes, and in renewing their business licenses numerous times during the past four years."

Blankley Reports Years of Trouble

In a letter dated  May 29th, TPD Chief Brent Blankley said "while the problems at King's Hookah have been ongoing for the last several years, the events of the last two months have been especially serious.

That escalated trouble started on A-Day weekend, on April 14th, when Blankley and the police department shut down the hookah lounge for being overcrowded - they allegedly had 283 people in a building where 83 are allowed.

Blankley said TPD detained Buggs to give him a citation for overcrowding and because he appeared to have active writs for arrest with Tuscaloosa Municipal Court over other pre-existing and unresolved issues.

Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

Buggs reportedly tried to walk away before the police business was resolved. When Chief Blankley put his hands on Buggs to stop him, the football player reportedly shoved the lawman and "a scuffle ensued, and it took several officers to place Mr. Buggs into handcuffs."

Blankley said five days later, there was a gun fired in the parking lot at the lounge. Three days after that, on April 22nd, an alleged employee was found asleep in his vehicle with a bag of marijuana in plain sight beside him.

Two days later, Buggs and his brother reportedly pointed guns at patrons in the parking lot - both men have been charged with menacing for that incident.

There was also another shooting there on May 19th, Blankley said, when 15 shots were fired and bullets struck three vehicles including one that was occupied.

Blankley said Buggs or the lounge have been cited for overcrowding three times, doing business without a license three times, failing to pay taxes once, and illegal placement of trash. TPD also reports 46 noise complaints about the business.

"Although these citations date back to 2022, Mr. Buggs had never come to court or dealt with any of these tickets until he was arrested on April 14, 2024," Blankley wrote.

Blankley's letter triggered Standridge's petition to the council, which set the matter for a public hearing during their meeting on Tuesday. Because the issue was part of the council's consent agenda, they did not discuss it before voting Tuesday.

Now the council will consider revoking the business license on June 25th at 8:30 a.m.

In a statement through a representative, Buggs has denied the charges against him and accused the city of trying to tear him down and close the lounge.

"Isaiah vehemently denies the truthfulness of the allegations and charges asserted against him today. Under no circumstance does Mr. Buggs condone the mistreatment of any animal. The dogs at issue did not belong to him and he was unaware they remained at the property in question," the statement says.

"Furthermore, we believe the City of Tuscaloosa's decision to file the charges today is part of a concerted effort by the City of Tuscaloosa and its Police Department to besmirch Mr. Buggs' name and reputation as part of an ongoing subsurface campaign to force the close of his local business Kings Hookah Lounge."

For more on this situation as it develops on both sides, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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